Mike's Recipe, Oct. 2011 - Pasta E Fagioli
Reading Heather's New Recipe post from last month made my recipe decision for this month. I'm constantly looking for ideas I can use on that evening that we come home and she's had a stressful day. What can I make that I can pull off and will be insanely comforting to her. She came right out and said it in that post; Pasta E Fagioli from David Rocco.
It was kind of a snap decision. I had no concept of how easy or difficult the recipe was. This blindness continued all the way until I cracked open the recipe on the iPad the evening I was cooking it. To my surprise, this recipe was probably the least stressful thing I've cooked so far for this site. While I made a relatively simple grilled sandwich last month, it cooked at a frantic pace. I really appreciated the slow pace of this recipe.
The recipe called for slowly cooking a bunch of ingredients in a large sauce pot. I started out by doing all my chopping and prepping. I wanted to be patient and take my time with this. After everything was chopped up, I threw it all in the pot and let it simmer and cook away.
After it had done that for a few minutes, it was time to add in the liquid. But first, one of the stranger instructions in the recipe had to be carried out. You are supposed to mash roughly a quarter of the beans in the pot. This isn't easy to do, nor precise. It probably has something to do with releasing starches into the mix. I did my best to mash away.
With beans mashed, it's time for the water. Except, instead of water I used stock. This instruction came right from Heather. She does it when she makes this recipe and I'm definitely not going to argue with her. It makes sense. Why add water when you can add something that will give it even more flavor?
After adding about a third of the stock, uncooked pasta went into the pot. This felt particularly strange. How often do you add uncooked, dry pasta to a dish prior to boiling it?
With the pasta in, the last big step was to add the rest of the stock and let it boil and reduce away for about 15 minutes. It wouldn't be one of my recipes without some sort of oversight. This simple step of tending to a reducing pot of food is where it happened. I didn't stir enough. There were a few noodles that burned to the bottom of the pan. Any bets on how many of these I'll do before I'll have a mistake-free month?
With it suitably reduced, cheesiness was folded in and it was time to serve. It's a simple and homey dish. I just heaped a bunch on to a couple of plates, poured a beer, and it was ready to go. Overall, I was really happy with how it tasted. It needed a bit of a table-side salt addition, but other than that it was a great dinner. I hope Heather enjoyed it and I hope I'll be able to surprise her with it in the future.
Mike on October 22, 2011 at 7:20pm EDT
pasta e fagioli